Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville filed a resolution to make an amendment to the state constitution to give the legislature authority over school funding. Rep. Glen Casada is a co-sponsor.
The proposal would add the words in all caps:
“The General Assembly AS THE ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE shall provide for the maintenance, support and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools IN SUCH MANNER AS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAY DETERMINE. The General Assembly may establish and support such post-secondary educational institutions, including public institutions of higher learning, as it determines.”
This would give the state legislature full authority to determine what funding and educational opportunities are adequate for Tennessee’s public school children.
According to the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, public schools in our state are underfunded by more than $500 million. The state has been sued three times since 1993 over education funding. Tennessee Education Report explains how this resolution is a reaction to those lawsuits.
“When a body like the Tennessee General Assembly faces a dilemma such as whether or not to make funding schools a top priority, they can either make a significant new investment in schools OR wait and see if the courts order them to make a significant new investment in schools. Historically, our General Assembly has waited and then taken corrective action by way of new investment only after courts have found that school funding is not adequate and/or equitable. “Now, however, lawmakers are taking a different approach. They are advancing amendments to the state constitution that would essentially eliminate the requirement that the General Assembly provide for a ‘system of free public schools’ in Tennessee.”
For more information about this resolution which would strip Tennessee children of their constitutional right to adequate schools, please read former State Senator Roy Herron’s letter to legislators on behalf of the Tennessee School Systems for Equity, which includes most of Tennessee’s school districts.
This is a long process, but let’s try to stop it early. The resolution would have to make it through all committees and then the full House and Senate would have to approve it this session.Then the legislature would have to approve the constitutional amendment by a 2/3 majority next year in order to get it on the ballot for voters in 2018.
3/1/16 – The house joint resolution passed the Education Administration and Planning subcommittee 5-2. Yes votes – M. White, D. White, Smith, DeBerry, H. Brooks. No votes – Moody, Dunlap.
3/8/16 – The full Education Administration and Planning committee rolled (deferred) the resolution until Tuesday, 3/15.
3/15/16 – The resolution passed in the Education Administration and Planning committee 7-5. Yes votes – DeBerry, H. Brooks, K. Brooks, M. White, D. White, Moody, Smith. No votes – Fitzhugh, Dunlap, Turner, Coley, Calfee. Womick absent.
3/23/16 – HJR0493 will be heard by the Finance, Ways and Means subcommittee at 10:30.
Williamson County residents, please contact Finance Committee Chair Rep. Charles Sargent! 615-741-6808, firstname.lastname@example.org
Email the Finance, Ways & Means subcommittee! Ask them to vote no on the constitutional amendment and to fully fund public education in Tennessee.
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